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City apartment parking rules could change

Portland city commissioners will consider tinkering with the city code to require a modest amount of on-site parking for future apartment projects with more than 40 units.

The public hearing is set for 2 p.m. Thursday, April 4, in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave.

In the past couple years, apartment developers have built a spate of new projects on Portland commercial streets that lack any parking for tenants. The developers are taking advantage of a city policy aimed at spurring transit and bicycle use, which enables them to save building costs. But it turns out that many of the tenants, even those who commute by transit or bike, still own cars, and they park them for long stretches in front of shops or nearby single-family homes.

After residents and retailers near Southeast Division Street and other neighborhoods complained about potential parking shortages, newly elected Mayor Charlie Hales asked the planning bureau in January to propose adjustments to the policy.

The Planning and Sustainability Commission voted 7 to 1 to adopt the planning staff recommendations, which are relatively minor. Those will be considered by the council on Thursday.

Proposed amendments would:

• Requiring one parking lot for every four apartment units, when the apartment has 40 or more units, in specified zones.

• Permit reductions in on-site parking if there are dedicated spaces (and service contracts) provided for carsharing services.

• Permit reduced on-site parking where there is a docking station for the city’s new bike-sharing program.

• Allow dedicated parking for apartments to be located off-site, if it’s within 500 feet of the property.

• Require a loading space where there are more than 40 apartment units (instead of the current 50-unit threshold.)

In the future, city staff also may explore a neighborhood parking permit program in areas heavily impacted by new projects, such as Southeast Division Street west of César Chávez Boulevard.

It’s unclear if the city’s tinkering will resolve neighborhood conflicts that have arisen over the city’s policies. That should become clearer when residents testify about the changes on Thursday.